· ‘As a grassroots politician, I’m a scarce commodity to my family’
· My wives are only being patient with me…
· I found myself in the House of Representatives not by deliberate plan, but found myself, maybe by of God’s predestination…
· No matter how old I may be, my dream is that at the end of my service as a politician, I will certainly return to the newsroom.
· Every time you say someone is sick, in my immediate family, I become very worried. And the reason is that, I lost my second wife, by headache
With the reputation of a first class genius in Mass Journalism, learning at his father’s feet, he went straight into national Assembly after serving his fatherland. He is neither the President nor a State governor, but he keeps a terribly busy schedule into the wee hours of midnight, which makes him a rarity to his four wives and 29 children who sometimes ask who their father is, when he is around in company of his friends. The calm, reflective, energetic, enthusiastic Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, with a sense of momentous historic experience, has over 24 years in the House of Republic; he has mastered the terrain and re-invented the wheel with the credits of a brilliant strategy coupled with hard-nosed, diligent execution. He has hung around with every bold-named Public figure you can think of. You might expect him to be a larger-than-life presence, an intimidator. But he’s not. He isn’t without confidence, certainly, and he’s highly competitive. But he’s more inclined to listen and reflect. He doesn’t fit the expectation of a traditional Nigerian-politician. After several failed appointments, Adedayo Adejobi met him. The encounter took place at the Transcorp Hilton ,where they sat down for hours to talk, as hereflected on the road he's travelled, the storm in the public eye, what makes happens to him when he has issues with his aged, and why he is a scarce commodity to his family.....
Have you ever had an occasion where you had to whip into line a member on the floor of the house?
Yes, I have had several causes to whip a member to line. But while whipping, I have had to be diplomatic because the position of chief whip is defined from the concept of first among equal, as they collectively have rights to whip me out of office.
If elections were to be held today, would APC return to power?
I would want to say yes. As a politician, I will never hope for any failure of my party. I want to say without any mincing of words that APC will obviously return to power.
People say the fight against corruption is one-sided. With scenarios of cases of ex APC governors, ex PDP governors now in APC, our senators with their cases pending and dragging so long, does it not smack of a one-sided fight against corruption?
One needs that there’s still a mechanism in place to fight corruption. And this is done through established agencies, anti-graft agencies, the EFCC, the ICPC, Nigeria Police force, and the DSS. These agencies have the statutory and institutional rights to fight corruption.
Does it mean, sir, that there are no APC stakeholders or governors who have equally been found culpable?
Of course there are
So why haven’t they been brought to book?
Any APC governor that is found guilty or culpable of any charge is also brought to book. I can tell of some governors who have been found culpable. The Senate president, number three citizen of the federation, is also an APC card-carrying member, occupying an APC legislative position and chairman of the national assembly, is now facing serious charges. Whoever is found culpable will face the wrath of the law, and if there is any APC governor found guilty, I believe certainly he will be brought to book.
According to people, the senate is supposed to be for mature minds, whilst the House of Representatives, the young minds. The senate seems to be embroiled in all sorts of controversies and appear very juvenile, why is this happening in Nigeria?
I disagree with you. The concept that Senate is for mature minds, while the house is for younger ones, is basically not true. A young man of 35 is qualified to contest election and be Senator. Being in the Senate or House of Representatives has nothing to do with your age to be in the.
Being a vibrant lawmaker, do you see yourself someday as a senator?
As it is today, there could be other people who may be older than me by their biological age, but I’m the oldest serving member of the House of Representatives because I started as far back as 1992 till date. The likes of Adolphus Wabara, like Uzor Orji Kalu, and Bola Tinubu were my colleagues in the national assembly. I’d rather repeat being a member of the House of Representatives than just pass to the Senate or to be governor.
Away from politics, what was growing up like for you?
One obvious thing I know is that I’ was a very controversial boy. I have been troublesome. I never allowed anybody to cross my way for unjust reasons. And I had always identified myself with a cause that will be justifiable. Even when you find me quarrelling with my peers, you will hardly find me guilty.
What did you dream of becoming as a child?
I’ve always found myself in the position of among my peers. From day one, it’s like I was preparing myself as a leader.
You come across as widely read. What was your favourite book as a child?
I’ve not been used to reading. I don’t read, and I’ve never read. If there’s anything that has given me an advantage, it’s that I was trained as a communicator. I studied mass communication. And in mass communication I got a first class degree from Bayero University Kano, and I have never practiced journalism.
Would you have loved to practice?
I would have, I’m still interested to practice. No matter how old I may be, my dream is that at the end of my service as a politician, I will certainly return to the newsroom.
On the marital front, how did you meet your wife?
I think this may be too confidential for me to discuss. For me, it’s immoral, by my faith. All I can tell you is that I have four wives, and I have twenty-two kids.
With a very busy schedule, how do you find time to spend with your wives and kids?
If I should be honest with you, I’m a very scarce commodity to my family, because of the nature of my engagement as an active grassroots politician. This role I play has denied me the chance to have a very free relationship with my wives and my kids. That does not mean I deny them their basic entitlements, or their basic requirements as my spouses. Without being economical with the truth, my wives are only being patient with me. Because sometimes I get home very late, sometimes very rarely, my kids, especially the smaller ones, will come round and be asking, even when I’m in a group with some other friends, who is their dad. My own kid, at the age of three or four will be contemplating, is that my dad? He was trying to confirm if I’m his dad because he’s not used to me.
How do you find balance?
The balance is that I make it 50/50. I’ve been able now to give to my members primarily what they deserve of me, then at late hours now, my wife joins to come and stay with me, and between midnight and seven o’clock when she’s done with me, she goes back to her house, and I will go back to my office. Sometimes they can even concede to remain at home to allow me continue my thing. Even when I’m staying here in Transcorp, I still eat my local food. They provide my food from the house; I find it necessary to sustain an accessible place where my colleagues can meet me.
You have a very sensitive job, and it’s tough because you daily are faced with the challenge of making decisions. At the threshold of making tough decisions, whom do you seek advice from?
Most of the decisions I take have to do with our own operations. Its participatory leadership. While doing that, I gain opinions and ideas from my colleagues.
You are a very busy man, with most days on little sleep. What keeps you going?
I have been a very busy man, but I don’t joke with food. I eat every time, every minute, every hour, and as long as I eat, sleep is never my problem. The earliest time I sleep is 3am. And I bet you by seven in the morning, I am awake.
What drives you?
It’s the zeal and commitment to serve my people with utmost commitment and sincerity.
What’s that one thing that scares you the most?
Everyone has fears. I think it’s only when I have issues with my parents. That is when I become confused and demoralised.
You must value them so much.
Yes, I do. If I observe a missed call from my dad, my heart will beat more than normal. I will call back to hear from him, and hope there is no trouble.
What’s your relationship with your dad like?
It’s a very fine one. I’m the eleventh son of my dad. With ten other seniors, my dad finds me so worthy of what I’m doing, He’s so proud of me. The only thing that scares me, yes, is when I have issues with my parents, either my dad or my mom. They are all alive, my grandfather is alive, my grandmother is also alive, and I net my father’s grandfather, I know him, and I know my mother’s grandfather, even though two of them are now late, but my grandfather is alive. The grandfather to my mother is also alive. For the purpose of clarification, I’ve never had an issue that went beyond 48hours with any of them unresolved.
Every time you say someone is sick, in my immediate family, I become very worried. And the reason is that, I lost my second wife, by headache. This was a lady that I slept in her room, hale and hearty. 6am we rose to pray, and she told me she had headache. While she was complaining of headache, before I came from the pharmacy, I came to meet her dead.
How did you receive that, how did you handle it?
It was a very shocking thing. So, at any time I hear someone is sick; I will rush until I see him alive; because I keep on remembering the way and manner I lost my second wife of blessed memory. She gave me one child and died, and her son is still there. He’s now in the university.
What values are important in your life?
Impacting on the lives of other people, especially those who are impoverished. I value service to humanity. I don’t have too much value for money. My only value for money is to have the pleasure of getting it and giving it out.
Who can you say is your hero, and what makes them qualify to be so?
People I can call my heroes are politicians. For instance, the late Mallam Aminu Kano of blessed memory. Even though I knew him while I was young, his genuine stories about the struggle for the common man have endeared and inspired me to him. The former governor of Kano State, the late Abubakar Rimi. These two persons are my heroes.
Can anything stand in your way, and if there is, what is that thing that can stand in your way?
I think fate, and the predestination of God is the only thing I think that can stand in my way. And when such things come, I always give it to God.
From a well-rounded perspective sir, do you feel fulfilled, accomplished?
I think I do. Should I stop everything in life now for whatever reason, I look at myself as an accomplished person, and I have every sense of gratitude and appreciation to God almighty. I have also all sense of gratitude and respect, and appreciation to my people. I have done so much for my people. Go to my village, I don’t think there’s anything somebody that served as Governor could show me in his village that I’ve not provided to my people. I have done everything for my people.
Could there be anything you feel that you could have done better, generally, not just in politics?
I think I could have done better in my academics.
Even with your first class?
Of course, I had only first degree. I would have furthered my education. But I don’t look at it as late. I’m still contemplating going back to school to earn my second or even doctorate degree.
If you had 24hrs to live, what would you do?
If I had 24hrs, that will be total submission to the course of God, so that at the end of my life, I will have the blessings and go into paradise.
You appear a very fashionable man; you are no doubt a fashionable man. What spurs your dress sense?
Being a member of the House of Representatives, I am conscious of my dressing. If you come from a background like mine, we are always very conscious of our mode of dressing. I consciously dress in line with my tradition. I most times wear traditional attires. I always want to be clean and neat.
On a final note sir, how do you see politics?
Politics in the Nigerian context is a very difficult one. The kind of politics we play is never the kind we should play, especially when you look at the way and manner it is being operated. A situation whereby the political culture is always tagged against material values, as being the factor of attraction, then there will always be a problem.